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Alumni

Greek life at Bellarmine: Yes, it exists!

Spring 2022

By Harry Rothgerber ’69
 
Bellarmine may not have the fraternity and sorority houses that are prevalent at many universities, but “Greek life” does exist on campus. Alpha Delta Gamma, Phi Mu, Delta Sigma Pi, Alpha Phi Omega and Omicron Delta Kappa provide significant social, academic, leadership and service opportunities for students and alumni. 
 
The longest-running Greek organization at Bellarmine is Alpha Delta Gamma (ADG), a national Catholic social and service fraternity for men. Bellarmine officially formed an ADG chapter is 1961, but it was operating on campus before that, according to Lynn Harpring ’60, as evidenced by a photo in the 1960 Lance showing 13 founding members. The same yearbook also included a photo of four members of Tau Kappa Alpha, an honor society long inactive.
 
“Phi Mu and ADG have contributed to the vibrancy of campus life for decades.”

The Xi Chapter of ADG and the Rho Zeta chapter of Phi Mu, established in 1998, are the only national Interfraternity Conference (IFC) and Panhellenic Conference (PHC) organizations on campus, said Dr. Helen-Grace Ryan, vice president for Student Affairs. “Phi Mu and ADG have contributed to the vibrancy of campus life for decades,” she said.

 
“Active students not only work collectively with their peer brothers but are also introduced to the many ADG alums who came before them,” said ADG staff advisor Jordan Kelch, Bellarmine’s director of Alumni Engagement & Strategic Communications.  “I think ADG elevates the student experience, promotes substantial career development, and assists in fostering a commitment to community, education and service.” 
 
Similarly, Phi Mu, a women's organization, stresses personal and academic development, service to others, commitment to excellence and lifelong friendships.
 
Julie Armstrong-Binnix, assistant dean of Graduate Admission, is the faculty/staff advisor for the chapter, serving as a resource and making sure university policies are followed. A Phi Mu herself, Armstrong-Binnix was a senior at Georgetown College when Bellarmine launched its chapter. “I came to help recruit new members.” 
 
There are very few campuses to have only one national sorority, said Andie Kash, president of the national Phi Mu sisterhood, who coincidentally lives in Louisville. “I have enjoyed keeping up with Rho Zeta over the years, and I was honored to speak at their 20th anniversary celebration,” she said. “They have done a fantastic job of finding their place in the Bellarmine community.” 
 
Bellarmine’s three other Greek organizations are coed and focus on leadership, scholarship and service.
 
Delta Sigma Pi (DSP) fosters the study of business in universities. “Our primary purpose as a fraternity for professionals has always been to shape the next generation of business leaders,” its website says. A Business major or minor or focus in business-related studies is required for membership. Bellarmine’s Kappa Psi Chapter of DSP, founded in 1983, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, said Chapter President Evan Williams. 
 
Dr. Alisha Harper, who joined “the brotherhood” when she became a faculty member in the Accounting Department, is the staff advisor for DSP. “I oversee any issues with National and work with the brothers on strategic planning,” she said.
 
Since DSP differs from the social and service fraternities and sorority on campus, Williams said, people can choose to join both. “We call that going ‘co-Greek’ in DSP.”
 
Another campus organization, Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), is a prestigious coed honor society that celebrates scholarship and leadership. To be selected for membership, a student must be in the top 35 percent academically and hold a significant leadership role. Campus groups are called circles, not chapters. ODK was established at BU in 2000.
 
Jorge Pazmino, director of Graduate and Executive Education Programs in the Rubel School of Business, is ODK’s faculty advisor. “The circle’s leadership group right now is phenomenal,” he said. “In our recent induction ceremony, we were happy to have 50-plus undergraduate and graduate students join the circle, setting a milestone in the university’s history.”
 
Chartered in 2016 at BU, Alpha Phi Omega (APO) is a national coed service organization founded on the principles of leadership, friendship and service. It gives its members the opportunity to develop leadership skills as they volunteer on campus and in the community. “Once students see and feel the rewards of service, there’s potential that this will become a lifelong commitment in both their personal and professional lives,” said Dr. Frank Hutchins, faculty advisor.
 
In recent years, Bellarmine has experienced exponential growth in identity-based student groups and club sports, Ryan said.  Students are currently exploring campus interest in Zeta Phi Beta and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities, said Dr. Emily Dixon, director of the Dr. Patricia Carver Office of Identity & Inclusion. However, it is evident that since 1960, generations of Bellarmine students have been, and continue to be, shaped by their Greek life experiences, especially in the areas of leadership, academics, service work, social opportunities and career networking. Here are some of their stories. (Tell us your stories about how Greek life enhanced your time at Bellarmine and beyond by emailing us at letters@bellarmine.edu.)
 
ALPHA DELTA GAMMA (ADG), XI CHAPTER
23 student members
 
Lynn HarpringLYNN HARPRING ’60
Harpring & Pope, retired from Insurance and Investment Sales
 
Lynn Harpring remembers hunting rabbits on the land where Bellarmine now stands. After he enrolled in 1956, he could walk to school in 15 minutes. And once there, he was involved in forming a chapter of ADG.
 
“During my sophomore year, several of us started talking about forming a fraternity,” he recalled. “A fraternity committee was formed and I became secretary. Someone contacted ADG, and communication followed for some time. Paul Kleine-Kracht, the only junior on the committee, was very instrumental in the groundwork but graduated before ADG got going.” 
 
Several national ADG officers and staff were invited to Louisville for the Bellarmine installation ceremony. “A dinner was planned on campus at Bellarmine, but a snowstorm developed and the dinner was moved to the Brown Hotel where the officers were staying,” Harping recalled. “The installation was held in a meeting room at the Brown. The Xi Chapter was official!”
 
Harpring has retained a strong affiliation with Bellarmine over the years and is a past member of the Board of Overseers.
 
Jesse FlynnJESSE FLYNN ’71
President, Flynn Group (Commercial Real Estate and Development)
 
More than 53 years ago, Jesse Flynn was approached by an upperclassman who was attempting to restart ADG, which had then been inactive for several years.
 
“I thought it might be beneficial to me to join what I perceived to be a diverse group of students with varied interests to exchange ideas, socialize and form a common bond,” Flynn said. “Being a brother in ADG was incredibly helpful in the sense that it created a support group for academics, sports and social activities and a lifetime of personal and business networking.”
 
Flynn and his brother John ’70, also an Alpha Delt, formed lifetime friendships in the fraternity. “I recently opened my 1971 yearbook and viewed the photo of 25 young brothers,” Jesse Flynn said. “Well, we aren’t young anymore, and some have passed on, but the one thing that struck me most is that I am still in close touch with many of those guys.”
 
The most notable ADG in Flynn’s opinion was the late Joe Paul Clayton ’71, who served as CEO for Frontier Communications, Sirius XM Radio and Dish Network. You can find his name on Bellarmine’s Communication building, the athletic field, Piazza Clayton and two scholarships. Mike Clayton ’73, also an ADG alumnus, said, “My brother was ‘Mr. ADG.’ He provided great inspiration and guidance to all members, then and throughout the years.”
 
John and Jesse Flynn have become two of Bellarmine’s most successful, active and committed alumni, with Jesse Flynn serving a stint on the Board of Trustees. What guidance would Jesse impart to current students? “The advice I would give is the same advice I was given: Your degree is not a union card. It does not entitle you to a job or career. The interaction, networking, lifetime friendships and socialization are as important as what you learn in class.”
 
He recalled a poignant moment from his Bellarmine class’ 50th reunion in 2021. “I had 20 or so of my classmates to our farm for dinner. We got into a conversation as to what we had gotten from our college experience. My brother said it best: ’They are sitting around this table.’”
 
CHUCK PRIDDY ’84
Manager, Humana Claims Cost Management 
 
As an Accounting major, Chuck Priddy found that being an Alpha Delt provided a significant support system. “During my time as a student, we had ADG brothers involved in all facets of student life—student government representatives, yearbook editors, cheerleaders, campus ministry, resident advisors and orientation leaders, among others,” he said.
 
The service component of the fraternity was important to him. “My ADG brothers and I were actively engaged in service events with St. Joseph’s Children’s Home and the Cerebral Palsy School,” he recalled. “We volunteered and hosted bonfires and Easter egg hunts. ADG also participated in Project Warm, where we would help low-income families winterize their homes.”
 
Priddy said membership in ADG was a lifelong commitment. “ADG has been and will continue to be an important part of my life. There were seven ADG brothers who pledged with me in 1982, and we are still as close today as we were then. I met my wife, Gina, through one of my ADG brothers. I know that at any given moment, I can pick up the phone, and my ADG brothers will always be there for whatever I need.”
 
GUS BUCK 
Current chapter president
 
Gus Buck heard about ADG when he attended his first-semester Involvement Fair. “What better way to get connected than a fraternity?” he thought. “I don’t know many other places that I am going to meet everyone from a new entrepreneur to a corporate CEO to a happily retired businessman.”
 
Buck, a double major in Communications and Sports Administration who expects to graduate in 2023, said ADG gives him a connection to classmates he normally wouldn’t meet. “Any student who has been on campus has seen the sports teams that always do everything together,” he said. “ADG gave me a chance to find a group like that.” 
 
PHI MU, RHO ZETA CHAPTER
32 student members
 
Lilly Caudill Phi Mu headshotLILLY CAUDILL ’20/’21 MA
Development Coordinator, The DePaul School
 
Graduating from an all-girls’ high school, Lilly Caudill was looking for a similar sense of community and camaraderie when she came to BU. Her Phi Mu sisters provided that.
 
“It enhanced my Bellarmine experience by allowing me the chance to meet students across all grade levels I would not have otherwise met,” she said. “Most importantly, it allowed me to be part of something much larger than myself, whether through being part of a national organization or by serving my community through Dance Marathon and other service projects.”
 
Caudill connected with many Phi Mu sisters by serving in a variety of leadership roles both at BU and nationally. “We hosted two national presidents during my time in the chapter,” she recalled. “It was great to have a chance to meet them and to show them our campus.”
 
Phi Mu also helped her professional development. “Whether I am processing donations, writing grants, or reporting on what we have raised, I am utilizing the same eye for detail and work ethic that I did in serving my chapter—and with the drive of serving others, too.” 
 
Her advice to students interested in Phi Mu is simple: “Early in the fall semester, Phi Mu hosts its recruitment to gather its newest members. If you have the slightest interest in seeing what Phi Mu is about, I encourage you to start the recruitment process.” 
 
DELTA SIGMA PI (DSP), KAPPA PSI CHAPTER
19 student members and initiates
 
John-Ackerman-HeadshotJOHN ACKERMAN ’13/’13 MBA/’14 MST
CPA and owner, Ackerman CPAs LLC
 
John Ackerman is grateful for DSP for many reasons. “While I was in school, DSP was a source of many close friendships and was an invaluable resource as a student,” he said. “DSP will forever hold special meaning to me since it is where I first met my wife Alyssa, co-owner of our CPA firm.” 
 
He also benefited from the opportunity providing by leadership positions in the chapter. “I served as the VP of chapter operations, which requires keeping the chapter compliant with national governing standards,” he said. “Holding a leadership position in any college organization gives you relevant experience for serving on nonprofit boards and running your own business.”
 
He said the major difference between DSP and other Greek organizations is that DSP is a professional fraternity that focuses on business majors. “While there are social aspects of DSP, we also focus on professional development,” he said.
 
He highly recommends DSP to any business student. “The friendships you gain will help you during school and after graduation, as many of the students will go on to similar professions,” he said. “The accounting world specifically is a very stressful environment with long hours, so having close friends in similar careers is a great resource.”
 
EVAN WILLIAMS
Current chapter president
 
Evan Williams heard about DSP when he toured Bellarmine’s campus with his parents and they connected with the chapter advisor, Dr. Alisha Harper. “She saw that I was interested in business and brought up DSP and also provided my recommendation to start in the undergraduate early entry program.”
 
Williams, who expects to graduate in 2023, encouraged all business students to consider DSP. “If your major has anything tied to the field of business, you are welcome to join,” he said, “We will make it work.”
 
Ryan Ward DSPRYAN J. WARD ’19/’20 MBA
Employer Relations specialist, Sullivan University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
 
Ward’s advice to students considering becoming a Delta Sig is simple. “Join DSP not because you want to join a fraternity—join DSP because you want to help make a difference using the knowledge you gain in your business classes, from your experiences, and from your peers to help others and contribute to the progress of the fraternity, the university, and the community.”
 

 

 

 

ALPHA PHI OMEGA (APO), ALPHA ETA CHI CHAPTER

Nine undergrads and two graduate school members
 
AUBREY KIRCHHOFF
Current chapter president
 
Not attracted to Greek life initially, Aubrey Kirchhoff appreciated that APO focused on serving the community and honing leadership skills, so she took part in the pledging process and soon became an active member. “Our main principles—service, leadership, and fellowship—are derived from the Scout Oath and Law of the Boy Scouts of America, with whom we are affiliated,” said Kirchhoff, who will graduate this year.
 
Service is a key component of APO. “Active members are required to perform 15 hours of service per semester and attend three leadership events and five fellowship events,” she said. “To meet these requirements, we plan our own events as well as encourage members to attend relevant events outside of our chapter both on campus and in the greater community.” 
 
APO differs from other Greek groups on campus, she said. “As a national co-ed service fraternity, we function quite a bit differently than typical Greek organizations. Nationally, we are considered a service and leadership organization rather than Greek life,” she said. “While fellowship is one of our core principles, we are far more focused on self-improvement through serving our community. We also focus on inclusivity. Our dues tend to be much lower than other organizations’, making membership financially accessible. Our rush process is treated as getting to know and informing potential members of our organization rather than an evaluation. As a result, we have a diverse representation of student life. Many of our members live off campus and/or have full or part-time jobs.”
 
All that said, Kirchhoff added, “I greatly enjoy telling people that I am the president of a fraternity—it throws them off for a moment.”
 
OMICRON DELTA KAPPA (ODK), BELLARMINE CIRCLE
50+ members
 
lauren-henryLAUREN HENRY
Current circle president
 
Before being invited to join the circle, Lauren Henry knew little about ODK. That quickly changed. “I received an email stating I was in the top 35 percent of my class academically, as well as a significant leader on campus, and therefore they wanted me to join,” she said. Henry, a biology pre-med major with minors in biochemistry and Spanish who will graduate this year, became president in less than a year.
 
Academics and leadership are the focus of ODK. “This is a little different than other National Panhellenic Conference organizations on campus that are based on social standards,” Henry said. “I happen to also be a member of the Phi Mu Rho Zeta Chapter and can tell you both organizations have a tremendous focus on service within the community. Although we may not directly collaborate, our goals heavily align. As a member of both, I have been brainstorming ways to collaborate with all Greek life on campus to focus on collective impact.”
 
Henry said her involvement in ODK has been beneficial. “It stands out on my résumé and gives me a rewarding experience to speak of in interviews,” she said. “In fact, it was a conversation topic in one of my medical school interviews last semester. It showed how I was able to problem-solve and grow an organization from very little and made for a great conversation.” 
 

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